Intentional Crisis: Original vs. Final

The hardcover edition of Infinite Crisis — originally published in seven periodic issues — presents an intriguing case of textual revision. For some purists it might seem a half-hearted attempt at gap-filling (to be charitable) or sales-boosting (to be cynical) that, if not misrepresents the series’ original state (after all, DC advertised the hardcover’s additions), then perhaps betrays the integrity of its first intended presentation. But I find such a revised edition utterly in keeping with the essence of Infinite Crisis. Why shouldn’t the text’s history of production match its narrative of historical revisionism?

infinitecrisis06prelimcrop.JPGThe first thing that stands out on casual perusal is that the colors on every page are both deep and vivid. This is a beautiful book that I think will prove a satisfying read, especially after last month’s softcover edition of Identity Crisis that I waited two long years to read. In the end, my disappointment with the styles of both Metzler’s writing and Morales’ art wound up justifying my holding out for the paperback instead of being tricked into the hardcover of Identity Crisis twelve months ago.

The Infinite Crisis hardcover, by contrast, looks every bit the worthwhile investment and it will be good to read it in such a format only six months after its conclusion. This edition itself concludes with a couple pages of Jim Lee’s cover sketches and a 12-page interview with Geoff Johns, Phil Jimenez, Eddie Berganza, and Jeanine Schaefer.

One of the nicest things about this single-volume edition is that there are no wasted pages, sometimes required in other collections to align double-splashes onto facing pages. They must have made a concerted effort to regulate advertisement placement in the pamphlet format so that there would be no interruptions when collected as here. [See the note on pages 226-27.] The contents of each issue are separated only by single pages, with the George Perez cover on the recto side and the Jim Lee cover on the verso in each case.

There are 242 pages of consecutive art (paginated 7 to 248 ) which I count as 14 covers, 222 pages of original story, and 6 new pages. Inspired by Collected Editions and using Wizard’s description to guide me, here is what I think are the additions to the hardcover edition of Infinite Crisis. Though I followed along with the basic plot every month I didn’t buy the individual issues (waiting for the trade!) so I don’t have the original text for comparison, but using my memory and common sense I think I can identify the seams of the retailored version.

Pages 140-41: Two-page spread by Phil Jimenez immediately following the first page of issue #5, showing 80 heroes gathered in the cathedral.

The last line of dialogue on page 139 is the Ragman saying to Mr. Terrific, “Wish I could say the same about mine.” Page 141 has a caption of an “off-camera” character saying “God works in mysterious ways”, presumably the voice of Zauriel who on the next page is speaking from the pulpit (bizarrely in the center in place of an altar). His dialogue on this page would be abrupt without the “mysterious ways” line so I don’t think it was added just to fill space on the new page. Because of the room at the top left of page 142 it would seem that the line originally went here, but there is a slightly uneven panel border at the bottom right of page 139 that I’m betting was a touch-up after the overlapping caption had been removed from here.

Page 223: Single recto page by Phil Jimenez following the twelfth page of issue #7.

The last word balloon on page 222 is Hal saying “Guy. It’s Jordan. We got a problem” and the first image of 224 is Batman “WHAMM”-ing Deathstroke’s head against the ground and pronouncing “it’s over”. The inserted page fills in what lead up to Deathstroke getting knocked out, with Batman, Nightwing, and Robin teaming up against him. The dialogue is:

Batman: You joined the Society of Villains. You killed Phantom Lady. You destroyed Bludhaven. Why DO it, Deathstroke?

Deathstroke: Because they’re PAYING me, Batman. [WHAKK]

Batman: No, it’s something else.

[BLAMM]

Batman: You’ve abandoned your code of honor.

[shhnggg]

Batman: WHY? [KRAKK]

Nightwing: Because his family abandoned him. He lost his sons. His daughter.

Deathstroke: Because of YOU. It’s always been because of YOU.

Robin: You need to take some responsibility, Slade. [THOKK]

Batman: We ALL do. [KRAKK]

Page 230: Single verso page by Phil Jimenez following the (originally) eighteenth page of issue #7.

I’m guessing this is the new page because it just doesn’t match the style of the pages surrounding it. The layout of four page-width panels is very foreign to the rest of the book, and the inking (as on page 223) makes Jimenez’ art seem mismatched with the rest of his own art.

The last panel of page 229 is of the two Supermen apparently grabbing Superboy Prime while shouting “For tomorrow!” while page 231 is back on earth beginning with Alex Luthor saying, “We’re not so different, Bruce”, and ending with Batman pointing a gun at him.

Inserted between these two pages is more of the battle in Metropolis, with the top forty percent of page 230 being a single large panel showing about sixteen characters fighting each other. In the next panel down Killer Croc says to his companions, Metallo and Mr. Freeze, “Look what we got here, Robin and Nightwing. Fresh meat”, but in the following panel, eight Teen Titans and the Flash send them tumbling like bowling pins as Beast Boy says “Not with the Titans around” and Flash adds, “Later, guys.”

In the final panel of the new page, Robin is kneeling beside Nightwing, asking, “Dr. Mid-Nite? Is Nightwing–?” to which the Doc replies, “He’ll be all right. I give you my word.” Considering that the very next page (originally 19) features a floating panel of Dick’s bloodied face in a giant pool of more blood, which was the last image of Nightwing shown in the story, it seems that Didio really did intend for Nightwing to die, and that the inserted page is an interpolated explanation for why such a bloody mugshot shouldn’t be interpreted as the corpse it was originally intended to be.

NOTE: I just noticed that pages 226-27 are a two-page spread from the first version (pages 15-16 in the original format) that would have required blank pages or spacers on either side if not for the new pages 223 and 230. Since there are also spreads on 212-13 and 216-17 that work as-is, it was the spread on 226-27 that had to be adjusted with spacers. So I think it’s safe to say it was a desire not to have wasted pages that prompted DC to propose adding two new pages of story.

UPDATE (8 Oct.): I could have just read the interview in the back of the book, in which Anton Kawasaki (Collected Editions Editor) explains:

We’re also adding two new pages to this issue [#7] to “fix” the awkward way the Green Lantern spread originally fell. Damn you periodicals people for not paying attention and making us poor Collected Editions guys work harder! But I’m actually really happy that we could include these pages, and even more happy that they’re not just “filler” and actually add something to the story.

So apparently pages 15-16 in the original issue were published on recto and verso sides of the same page instead of on facing pages to make the spread work. End of update.

But it’s kind of hard to advertise “addtional pages!” when it’s just two, so I think to make it seem worthwhile they decided to find a couple more places where they could squeeze in a couple of double-page splashes, and invite George Perez to do one of them. With a half dozen new pages then DC could feel justified in trying to sell the hardcover on this point. And since the first spread depicts a scene happening in the story, they could techincally count them as part of “four all-new story pages”. The final spread, however, just couldn’t be included with the “story pages” in good conscience:

Pages 246-47: Two-page spread by George Perez immediately before the final page of issue #7.

I can only estimate between 100 and 150 heroes on these pages. Though it is technically before the end of the story, it is more of a poster style image because every character has completely recovered (including Nightwing) and the large disembodied faces of Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman hover in the top corners. Its abstractness is emphasized by the caption which is a “voice-over” lingering from Clark’s dialogue on the previous page.

The last line of dialogue on page 245 is Clark saying to Lois, “I’m sure we’ll figure out something. But until we’re back–” which is continued in a caption on Perez’s page 246 that reads “–I’d say things are in good hands.” With only the revised version in front of me it’s hard to tell whether this last fragment of dialogue was moved from a similar caption on the original issue’s ultimate page or a word balloon on its penultimate one, but it doesn’t look like there was room for it on the last page since the caption reading “Oa. The Center of the Universe” is in the top left corner.

So much for reverse engineering the text’s original state!

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10 thoughts on “Intentional Crisis: Original vs. Final

  1. Ryan says:

    If we don’t get to see your work on Milton, I guess we get to see at least can see your technique on Infinite Crisis.

    I love discussing comics in a serious manner. There’s something about quoting dialogue and effects balloons (“THWAK!”) with a straight face…

  2. Ryan says:

    Let the record show that I did not intentionally include a smiley emoticon in my last comment.

  3. Nobody says:

    I got you. I had to put an inappropriate space between “248” and the close-parenthesis in my fifth paragraph because the 8 and ) automatically converted to a smiley face when next to each other. I’ll see if there’s anything I can do to turn off that function.

    Funny you should mention Milton though, since why and where those pages were added in IC is closely analogous to why I think Milton added a few lines to the second edition of PL, and specifically where he inserted them. I daren’t post that work here but let me know if you’re interested, Ryan.

  4. Thanks for the great overview!

    So does this means we no longer have the infamous “Red Mist” taking part in the Battle For Metropolis?

  5. Doug says:

    Nope, no red mist–it’s all in color. However, in the interview section, they do show the unaltered splash with the red mist, so that you can see both versions. They do that with a lot of the altered panels, which I think is a great thing–this way you can see just what they’ve changed.

  6. Hey, thanks for the run-down. That was great, exactly what I was looking for. All the best — c.e.

  7. berowl says:

    just, how did you put the picture next to your text, I mean like that:

    text 0000000
    text 0 pic 0
    text 0 pic 0
    text 0000000

    ? thx

  8. Nobody says:

    In wordpress, just select or highlight the image and click the right-align button, as if it is text, and the image will move over to the right.

  9. berowl says:

    cool thx vm^^

  10. […] What’s more, Alex Luthor’s machinations turned out to extend beyond the initial publication of Infinite Crisis to its collection in a single volume as well, which revised its own immediate history by inserting new pages and replacing others. […]

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